Fingernails, Please“Fingernails, please.”
The girl smacked her gum, fussed with her hair a little, and turned her attention back to her phone. After a few seconds she glanced up again, clearly irritated: “Well?”
“Right. Um.” Thomas suppressed the urge to look at the fingernails she was currently wearing. “Color?”
“Green. Do you have something in a sort of limey chartreuse, maybe?”
“Uh, yeah, the list's over here –” But his customer had turned her full attention back to the phone, and was clearly ignoring him. Thomas cleared his throat. “Do you want lime, or chartreuse?”
“Uh... yeah, lime. Sure.”
Thomas winced. The long ones were always worst. “I'll be right back.”
He had 18 mm lime in stock, still in their larval stage, pale and wriggling under the blue light of the stasis chamber. He tried hard not to look at them too closely as he de
StrengthMy grandfather was the strongest man I ever met. If you’ve ever seen someone on TV perform some superhuman feat of strength and thought that it wasn’t real, you’ve never met my grandfather. I have seen him rip a telephone book in half. He reached his full height of 6”4’ at the age of fourteen, and by the age of fifteen he had left school to work in the metal works. No one thought twice about it, because he was more than capable of the work and looked older than he was.
I am not strong. My joints frequently hurt, although I do not think I can convey to you how much of an understatement the word ‘hurt’ is in this situation. Most people didn’t understand why I didn’t run as long or as fast as the other children, or take delight in the frequent football scrimmages that almost all the boys I knew took such delight in. when I told them “I can’t, my legs ache,” they just told me to be strong.
My grandfather didn’t.
anxietythe ocean floods my chest
while sea urchins cling to the
walls of my lungs making it so
i can't breathe.
desolateyou are a broken house with smashed windows
and ivy growing between your fingers
you are fragile and with every
creaking footstep on the stairs you pray so
hard that you have let the right one in
there will be people,
people with minds so blissfully ignorant that
they walk right through you and do not
see the splintered furniture residing within your
body, you are invisible to them,
you wonder if you are even there
but then there are other people -
people worth staying standing for,
people who will walk in and gently run their
fingers along the parts of yourself that
you forgot were even there,
people who will explore your anatomy like
it is an undiscovered world.
let them find the stale cup of water you left
beneath your bed 5 months ago,
let them find the brittle treasures you hide
in your fireplace, and how you masochistically
adore the way that you could just
catch on fire at any
but do not let them break you,
not ever again.
Not a Robot“Magic is a complex chemical reaction. It is created by a combination of genetic, chemical, and environmental variables. It can be replicated. I have mastered the technique. I have submitted the application for membership.”
The League of Sorcerers erupted in a chorus of protests. I analyzed each voice and filed them separately for later study. The strongest protest came from the Master of Ceremonies, a sallow faced man with a long beard. I retrieved the identfiles to address him by name. Human beings are particular about their monikers.
“Only when I am cast into the fiery pits of Zandara's Hel will this abomination be allowed to walk among the sacred halls,” Master Henry Boyle said. He tugged on his beard.
“I have no record of Zandara or Zandara's Hel,” I said, “I request clarification.”
“You are not welcome here, robot,” Mistress Cassandra Starlight said. She attempted to manipulate the atmosphere around me with a formula I h
22don't you dare
leave fake flowers over my grave
allow the weeds to grow and envelop me
because I will always be a sanctuary
for infectious things
GossamerOn Monday, he killed a spider. He scraped its guts off the bottom of his shoe before reluctantly putting it back on and shuddering. He knew it was just paranoia - he’d used the outside of the shoe after all - but he could still feel the tiny legs as if they were scampering over his foot. His cat Socrates distracted him from the ghostly sensation, meowing for the half open tin of food that was still sitting on the kitchen counter.
Reaching down with a smile, he pet Socrates and forgot about the spider.
He rolled out of bed on Tuesday, the sheets tossed around him in an attempt to cool down during the warm summer night. Half asleep, he trudged to the bathroom for a shower. But just moments before stepping into the tub, he looked down and jerked his foot back. Dozens of little, black, long legged bodies scurried across the white porcelain, fighting to scramble up the sides of the tub.
The phantom feeling of skittering spiders creeping up over his legs persisted even after he tur
Carambola [HI 7.31.13]The star people came from somewhere beyond Alpha Centauri, in their delicate and pointed starships. They were an old race, and a bold race, and starflight was nothing new to them. Yet again they had been uprooted from their home, and they traveled across the galaxy looking for a new place where they could settle.
It was the youngest pilot, whose name translates as Galaxy, who first sighted the new home planet. She pointed to its gorgeous blue-and-green patterns, and chittered excitedly about the white swirling across it. This was a sign of atmosphere, she enthused, and where there was atmosphere, the star people could live. So the fragile and graceful ships of her kind set their courses for this new planet, full of promise, and resumed their journey across the vastness of space.
The star people landed in new, rich soil, and as they emerged from their starships into the daylight, they marveled. Here was a place that had been left untouched; here was a glorious, gorgeous, wild place wher
Goodbyei didn’t fall in love with you
until your skin was already grey and i
had to tell you what the weather was like
since you couldn’t leave your bed.
i didn’t mind long nights in the hospital
because making you laugh brought a warmth
to my cheeks that burnt hotter than a
forest fire, you never laughed at me for blushing
i snuck you in alcohol and forbidden foods
and pushed you around in that rusted wheel chair,
and all the nurses looked at us with
miserable eyes that said more than the doctors
would ever tell me.
naively i thought it was good news
when you said they were sending you home; but
when i saw you strewn across your wine red sheets
my heart was heavy with foreboding, and
neither one of us said anything while i
slid an iv into your paper-skin hand, so
i never asked if you were okay.
we kissed and i didn’t comment
on your snowflake lips or the fact that
your hands shook like earth quakes when
they grazed my thigh and i held you tightly
like if i could keep
DistanceWe slept in different states
of mind, the distance between
our bodies made of mountains—
sweat stained sheets and beaten pillows
and heavy air.
We held our breath
as if there was only so much
that could invade our lungs
and come out in words.
The Ink LineBack in the first house I called my home,
I spied a map in the front window.
Encoded and golden,
it's language the places I visited during the Summer.
We used to save the fish there,
Keep them from being caught by rogues
With eyes like toads,
Preying on the animals
By feeding them corners to huddle up in.
The Ink Line;
A place where lost time
Met frost vines,
Encompassing a lake
Gorgons’ eyes –
I froze...just looking at it.
Years passed. I read the tale of Gilgamesh,
Convinced he was speaking to me –
mostly. No, I'm certain.
"Paradise always felt lost to us" he’d say
"It’s why, as children, we sought it out each day."
And I knew the Ink Line was the place...
That warrior brought me dreams, warned me about a serpent
Due to appear in between the ripples of the water
And the reflection of the full moon.
It would consume me whole,
Digest me to places where you could only pay boatmen a toll.
All leading to a world of colossus with r
Ode To The TsundereHe loves me not, he says with blushing cheek.
He'd rather die a fiery death than kiss
A girl with zero sex appeal, a geek
(he says it twice for extra emphasis).
So why the constant stares? I ask. He lies.
He hates the sight of me, he quickly shouts –
Without the scorn his panicked oath implies.
The dissonance contributes to my doubts.
Alone one day, he smiles at me; I gasp.
A joke? A lapse of judgment? Or perhaps
A glimpse of truth at last within my grasp!
I kiss his cheek and watch his walls collapse.
A victory for me, like striking gold.
For him, a death by kisses hot and cold.
Dear Daddy's GirlDear Naive 15,
You're ignorant as Hell.
You dress in baggy blue jeans, wear an oversized hoodie every day, and never let your hair down. Students at school, and even your mom, think you're gay… and you don't even know.
All of your classmates blame you for a burn book that circulated after that Mean Girls movie. Everyone thinks you're a jealous bitch and secretly they mock you. How can you not see that?
Your teachers are all positive that you cut yourself and that you're always on drugs. Even now you have no idea why they ask you to take your jacket off during class. Could it be that you always wear long sleeves?
It's okay, sweetheart. I had to find out the hard way, too.
Right now you're probably wishing your dad was home. He's the only one that will read your stories and tell you how creative you are. You don't have to beg him to watch movies with you, and he'll listen to your favorite songs without calling you suicidal. Right now, living wi
8 Ways to Help You Write Without Writing1. Go for a Jog. No really, you should. Even though it is sort of built into the stereotype of writers that we should never get out-and let alone even think about being fit-perhaps it is time that you ignore that stereotype for the sake of your writing quality.
According to a study by journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, people who exercise regularly do far better on tests of creativity than those who do not exercise. More creativity means more writing ideas, so getting into shape and exercising regularly might just be the final ingredient in making your novels shine.
2. Unplug the Internet. In the famous words of an unknown writer, “'Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet,’ and it could not be more true. How often do you go on the internet for some research or to find a song, then suddenly find that an hour has past and you are suddenly on facebook or twitter without even knowing you did so?
There are two w
Play BallI wonder if Johnny remembers when we started to grow. Playtime was so important. My favorite was the ball in the field. Toss, catch or miss, back and forth, back and forth. It was how we talked. How we bonded. Didn't matter how angry or sad we were, the moment the ball was flying we were happy again.
One day Johnny told me he was going to school. I already knew that. He went to school almost every day (although some days he called it 'work'), but this school was different. He didn't bring friends home at night. Actually, he didn't come home for lots of nights at a time. Mom let me sleep with her at first, but soon said I was too big and had to stay in our room. It was lonely though, so I got in his bed when she went to sleep, and then back to mine before she woke up. I was careful, and she didn't say anything, but somehow I think she knew.
Johnny talked on the phone. Mom would play them for me when I was very sad. It made me happy to know he was happy. I understood some of the things h
EG Sample Chapter 1
A boy of nobility becomes a page, a page becomes a squire, and a squire becomes a knight. Only then does a son of privileged blood become a man in the mountains of Nebo.To become a page, a boy needs only to reach the tender age of eight. An inevitability. To become a squire, a page needs only to reach the age of twelve. An inevitability. To become a knight, a squire must endure four years of arduous training to condition both the body and soul in such a way that befits a professional warrior and pleases the Phoenix. At the end of this training, the squire is put to the test. He must earn his knighthood by engaging in combat and killing at least one of his kingdom’s enemies. After completing this task as to which the outcome is most uncertain, only then can a squire become a knight.
HowlI beat the street out of my lungs. Burned
Those pages of salvation until the ink boiled red.
When they finally caught me I cursed every soul still on
Their knees and damned the midnight lamps that
bled through two-faced windows. When they told me
“Son, you have nothing to howl about.”, My voice
Became a whisper. In the prison they put us in
There are no bars, guards, or machine gun towers.
People come and go like moths to hellfire.
Like mass extinction and funeral pyres.
Not once did I think about escaping. Until,
The girl in the cell next to mine started screaming. Until
She clawed so deep her arms started breathing. Until
She swallowed that bullet and called it leaving. Until
I finally learned what it really meant to stop bleeding.
I started seeing through the blank pages and white walls.
Underneath it all, different prophets sing the same song.
The greatest minds of my generation weren’t driven to madness.
They were born to it. Their first breaths
fati am not handsome, but i am endearing
and wearing clothes to cover my indecent
flesh and unhealthy habits i will charm you
with witty jokes, sarcasm, and a surprising intellect;
because, who would think I’d be social
and approachable, smart, and charming
despite being fat, and unattractive?
considering the question
i dared to undress and see my body
for the first time in weeks
-sagging belly, and a full stomach ,
fat breasts, stretch marks,
and my manhood asleep
as if it were impotent
people compliment my shirts,
or my beard’s red tint
but never my smile,
and rarely my eyes.
sometimes i am cute,
and i’m compared to big teddy bears
‘cause I’m ‘comfortable’ and ‘big’
but i didn’t quite hear the same compliments
when i was 60 pounds lighter.
i am not a man, i am an overweight child
with a bad knee and penchant
to dissimulate my pain
and self-defecating humor.
my beard is a mess, but it hides
Reading as a WriterHave you ever set down a book for good because you found something in it you don’t like? If you want to write, I suggest that bad habit end now.
Why, you ask? Because everything you read—and I mean everything–has positive value for you as a writer. Stephen King, and any author worth his or her salt, is a huge advocate of writers reading massive amounts.
Again you ask, why? How can everything be useful? There are a number of reasons and I’ll cover as many as I can.
Reading bad literature teaches you about yourself and shows you what to avoid—or at least how not to do something—in your own work. If you run across something that you don’t like, stop and ask yourself why you don’t like it. Is it just a personal preference? Was it out of place or poorly executed? Does it contradict something from earlier? As soon as you figure out the “why” of something’s badness, you learn a little about yourself and you
is like watching from the waves—
you are so close,
and yet so far away.
is like climbing the ivy-spun tower—
a treacherous labor
without a promise at the end.
is like tasting the apple—
all sweetness and beauty
but poisonous at the core.
believing in you
is like wearing a glass slipper—
it shatters so easily
like a jar of dusty dreams.
is like waking after a hundred years—
throwing off the enchantment
and waking to reality.
how i still wish you were mine.
do you even hear yourself?he declares himself a feminist
"in the purest sense of the word"
and expects every woman to prove that
(to him, specifically)
she is worthy of equal respect
I'll Never Grow TiredTonight I'm going to stop you
on the porch, we'll stand toe to toe
the way we used to when
the pulse that thrummed
quick and strong through our veins
sang out our young, unbridled hope.
Our eyes will meet and,
just like the first time,
I'll take a moment to run my fingers
through your shining thoughts and
caress the sharp lines of your mind.
I'll lean forward and press my lips onto
the the flower-petal curve of your self-expression,
and that will be enough for you
to take me by the hand
and lead me up the stairs.
In the soft moonlight that filters through
the trees and our gauzy curtains
I'll unbutton your fears and slip them from your shoulders,
revealing smooth broad dreams. And,
careful not to miss a single freckle of insecurity,
I'll kiss my way down to the hollow of your throat,
where your soft-spoken tendencies
rest among unshakable beliefs.
Between the ridges of your ribs I'll count your worries
and smooth them away with my fingertips.
Over the subtle curve of your hips
The Writer's InkJonathan sat trembling in the dark. He stared at nothing, his eyes not penetrating the circle of blackness that surrounded him. A single lamp illuminated the round table he sat at, allowing him enough light to see the edges of it and nothing more. A tea pot and half-empty cup sat in the centre. With a trembling hand he reached toward it and took it towards his lips, not truly looking at it as he drank. He set the cup down on a plate. The cup rattled against it, the only sound save for the thunder that rumbled in the distance.
He heard a switch flick. Jonathan shut his eyes for a moment, temporarily blinded by the harshness of the light that filled the room. He opened them again to see a small, white kitchen. A single window and two doors broke the array of cabinets the covered the walls.
Standing in an open door was Chris, Jonathan’s friend and housemate. He had a hand on the light switch.
“John, what are you doing? It’s after midnight!” Chris asked.
tense shiftsand here's the first letter:
there are some things in life you can't escape.
the feeling of his fingers entwined in yours,
and maybe the way the wind blows on your ears lightly,
teasing teasing teasing because it knows
you blush when your cheeks get cold and the tip of your nose goes red
and it knows
he's going to have to give it a kiss to warm it up
(also because he can't stand how adorable it looks).
she thinks that maybe there ought to be a coffee shop on this corner-
she tells him so, with a wide sweeping gesture that
knocks her scarf into his eyes
and he wears it like a mask and smiles-
but on the other hand, maybe not;
it could be a park, you know,
overlooking the bay right here, see?,
and the little children could watch the boats come in,
steaming toog toogs out to make them smile and clap and wave.
and he's watching with a half-smile
the way her eyes light up and brighten the lonely shoreline sidewalks,
he'd spend a lifetime making that corner i
How to love a girl who can't love herself.one.
When she cries herself to sleep
six out of seven nights a week you must
say nothing. You must simply take
her in your arms and kiss her gaunt,
pale cheeks and wait for her to
slumber at the sound of your heart.
On the days where she wishes she
were part of the stars, tell her
no. Tell her that there are too many
lights in the sky and that just one
would be forgotten the moment you looked
away from it. Tell her that she is perfect
the way she is: completely human.
Don't let her think about the scars
that no one but her can see. If she
says "I think I'm broken" smile like you
know a secret and say, "No, you're mending."
But do not be the one to fix her - no, she
Synonyms, the Thesaurus, and YouEvery now and then, I see one of those lists going round, be it on Tumblr, shared on blogs, or whatever. You know, those lists; the ones that go on for eight miles listing ten synonyms for dozens of common words.
I hate those lists. In the wrong hands, they often do more harm than good. And in the right hands, they‘re just sort of useless.
There's one going around I do rather like, because it points out the idiocy of these lists. At the top, it says, 'instead of whispered, consider…' and lists off a whole bunch of words. One of those words is 'insinuated'. And the very first response to that list? 'Aye lil mama, let me insinuate in ya ear.' Now, that sentence sounds utterly ridiculous, because whisper and insinuate do not mean the same thing. Not even close. But these lists are often rife thesaurus copypasta like this that upon closer inspection make very little sense.
Let's take the word 'got' for a mome
Fan Fiction for the UnconvincedThis is an attempt at an informal essay on fan fiction, by a middle-aged woman who reads and enjoys fan fiction. It won’t really be a balanced argument—I will be concentrating more on what I see as the positive aspects of the genre. I’ll be using mainly examples from the Sherlock fandom, that being the fandom I’m most familiar with. (There will be some spoilers, especially for series 3, so if you haven’t seen the series yet and you intend to, it might be wise to give this essay a miss.)
Why do I read fan fiction? The basic reason is exactly the same reason I read anything—some of it is of astounding quality. I think fan fiction is often saddled with the image of being written solely by beginners and being uniformly terrible. But it’s like any other kind of fiction. You have beginners, you have the competent, you have the talented and experienced. The very best fan fiction writers write at a professional standard; the very best sto
Our Weight and RopesYour life, little flower
like a snake
from a can
lungs not ready
you hit the air
it hit you
months too early
this life on earth
and its lightning
hit and burnt
nothing about you
was anywhere near
and ever so luckily
your wings were
slow to form too
as it was all
we could do
were barely enough
to keep you
from floating away
pulled back inside
and years later
we're the ones
Missing PersonsI live in a world of fear.
I am not the only one who is afraid; no, every person here fears the night, if not for themselves then for someone they love. Mothers fear for their children, husbands for their wives, children for their sisters and brothers. No one fears for their friends; no one has friends anymore. No one dares.
It wasn’t always this way. I remember days before the fear, before the world was so paralyzed with its own terror that it forgot how to live. I remember walking through a park after sunset just for the pleasure of it. I remember being late for an appointment without anyone beginning to plan my Memorial. I remember life before people began to disappear.
It started slowly, coming on so gradually that it’s hard to say when it became normal for people to vanish on their way to the grocery store, or while walking the dog. Suddenly it was completely ordinary to see houses fall derelict, their owners mysteriously vanished somewhere beyond our reach.
Lessons for TodayToday in math class, they would be learning how to factor quadratic equations. Miss Gracie, called Mrs. G by her students, knew this because she had the lesson planned out meticulously across three-and-a-half sheets of college-ruled notebook paper, which sat neatly in a folder before her. She knew because, like with all her lessons, she had recited it in front of her dressing mirror last night, right before bed.
She glanced at the clock. Ten minutes left until class. Its tick, tick, tick was the only sound in the room.
She looked around the room. Nothing but the equation charts that she covered with long sheets of colored paper during tests (always to the dismay of the students) and Tu fui, ego eris. Latin. What you are, I was; what I am, you will be. She stared at it. She had written it out on a sheet of white cardstock and stuck it to the wall with blue tape on her first day. It seemed like a kind and encouraging quote, a reflection
Sumus de stellisA Gbm
empty trees with empty branches
lonely horses on lonely ranches
why do they run in circles, love?
lives like that reminiscent of --
sweaters stained with regret
the tears of those with oxygen debt
B B A
Earthquake CafeIt’s hard to believe
It’s been six years since the Earthquake Café.
Since the Science Center froze our shadows on the wall.
I wonder if they’re still there.
Six years since we made people double-take,
Look crooked at us and issue back-hand compliments,
And I’d say, thanks? I think.
Since we were that pair of people.
Six years and still not comfortable
Calling it a couple, “it’s complicated”
That status on Facebook was made for us then.
Seventy-two moons since the solstice
Where you were the first
And the last
Person to ever make me blush.
You’ll have to forgive the nostalgia.
This is how I get closure,
And writing is so much cheaper than therapy.
A lost generation unto our selves,
Not quite Jay and Daisy
Maybe more F. Scott and Zelda
Maybe more than a little crazy,
And now you have this baby cutting teeth.
You have this something stable,
This foundation not built on fault lines.
This life not given to blackouts and tremors.
Conversation piece(for Helen)
Nightflowers, after our sudden breath:
in your look the shadows of generous trees
between your fingers a clutch of grass torn
from the roots of eager life
at your feet the star-enclustered dew
and in your heart the snowflake shape of love.
Before the salmon dawn, leaping for us – that
was the sharp moment
we said our first true word, waking oh!
Around our world
I hear the creak of grassblades stretching
the forest approving. You and I can fly now
hand in hand into a woken time,
play with tongues of light
and the hunger of surprised skin.
Starting from silent darkness
fingers reaching blind for the new
we end my sweet speaking
Where convention holds court
we will swear we slept well – and hear the other truth
waking from such sleeping.
Roses have bloomed in our garden
we will never lack for flowers now
knowing truly how petals unfold.
And in the day, so knowing,
there is still in your laughing eyes the hint
of our enchanting
Shallow WaterIt was just a little kiddie pool in the backyard, unlovely pink-and-yellow plastic under the hot summer sun. But on those nights when Mom came home from the swing shift tired and met Daddy sitting in the kitchen angry, it was Amy’s only sanctuary.
She wasn’t a sound sleeper. Her parents still talked about how it had taken her infant self six months to sleep more than two or three hours at a time. During the school year, when her life was full of classes and friends and sports, it was easier to drop off, but summer nights were always more difficult. They were hotter, for one thing, and the long, indolent, inactive days often left her feeling too tired to sleep.
But mostly, it was because her parents had their arguments at night, right when Mom got back from the station. Daddy would send Amy to bed -- or at least her room, to pretend to sleep -- hours before. Then he would wait, sitting at the kitchen table and facing the door like a judge, hands folded in front of him
Letter to a fatherDear Father,
As I sit in a room two continents away, surrounded by clothes and books and pretty things, all bought with money provided by you, five years into a degree funded by you, I type away this letter.
Dear Father, two days ago you laughed when I excitedly showed you a photo of a thirty-five-bedroom castle and said that one day I will buy it, and you told me that at my age you had stopped having those grandiose dreams. Let me tell you a different story. Nineteen years ago, you pulled a drawer out of your wardrobe, to reveal a drawer behind it, and within this drawer was a single item: an old, ornate, large iron key. You told me it was the key to the gates of your Castle in Spain. Only years later did I learn that in French, "castle in Spain" means castle in the air.
Thanks to a man who never stopped dreaming... but who put his dreams aside to help his daughter make hers come true, today, I can dream.
Dear Father, when they ask me if I have a role model, I name you. You may be gru
GlassJosie was digging holes out behind the kitchen when Matt found her. She held up something small and wriggly in greeting. “Look, I found an earthworm!”
Matt crouched down beside the hole and leaned forward, balancing himself with one hand. “Nah, I don't think that's an earthworm, Josie. It looks like some kind of larval beetle.”
“No, it should be -” she broke off and her face fell. “Glass says it's a rhinoceros beetle larva.” She dropped the creature and sighed loudly.
“And you're just going to believe it?”
“Well, it's Glass.” She shrugged.
“And what does Glass have to say about this?” Matt frowned and moved his fingers in a flickering pattern that was too complicated for Josie to follow.
“That can't be right.” Josie giggled. “Glass says you're a lesser spotted palewing butterfly. Have you filed a bug report?”
Matt looked at her seriously. “Josie, you can see right now that
She rusts the world green,
garlanding her hair
with flowers and sunrise.
At first, they clink
waxy tulip cups and gossip
over the corn tassels' latest
monarch fashions. They pallet hay
into sleepover mattresses and braid rain
through each other's plaited
cattails. But though her palms
toast eggs from hens, her
dream-clear eyes flint ice, and the
green reflecting from manicured lawns
will never match her envy. She
scorches her enemy from memory.
She strokes sun-kissed knuckles
across reddened scalps, skirt
rustling with fairy fire.
She casts a flippant glance
over her shoulder, ignoring
for as long as she can the
lady in red turning trees
to skeletons and grass
to gravestones. They
meet eyes at last - vibrant blue
to dull brown - as
the sky bows gracefully
from glass to ice.
She stores her elegance
in pumpkin stems, and she
crunches apples with rotting teeth.
Cloaked in a gown
of red and gold,
she beckons him with
a brittle finger. Ice
FingersWe never spoke of hands. I never spoke of hands. Gypsy family stayed far and away, waltzing the streets of Italy and sharing their fortune telling and palm reading secrets only with each other, myself never having a single chance to ask how they happened to do it. They never explained to me how one could know the heart lines bled into the veins in the palms, branched up and around and to my heart - Or, perhaps, it was the other way around. Maybe my heart beats themselves were what shaped my heart lines. Maybe every erratic or skipped beat, every slowed pace and steady one, was what shaped my heart line over a manner of years.
Not once had I taken into consideration the possibility of that which my palms, themselves, weathered shaping those odd little trenches like soldiers crushing down the skin under their marching feet.
Until I met a boy with hands.
Well, that is - Most boys have hands. Most everyone has hands, but this boy had hands, palms smooth just like mine, all those curious na
Nonessential ProsthesisNonessential Prosthesis
By Aaron C. Richards
The pain comes in waves like a hole in the head. A hole in the head. A hole in the head. And as each wave comes I wish I was dead. I wish I was dead. I wish it was dead.
Then the overlord comes around and everything changes. It’s all “Hail Spectrum”, and “Song of Ages” and “Whose thrum is loudest to please the queen?” I’ve been waiting a long time for my chance to please the queen. But my thrum is weak. The prettiest sounds I make are inside my head: the one place that the hive doesn’t seem to be able to get to. Because the only place darker and more twisted than the hive around me is the inside of my fucking brain. So the queen gets no pleasure from me. My DNA does not make a contribution to the hive. And my thrum doesn’t join their song.
My days are darkness, stillness, and pain. The darkness threatens to put me to sleep, and the pain wakes me back up. My food is the
The big feelingWhen you realize you are feeling
a moment fading into all the moments
that preceded it,
and you must try, impossibly, to describe
the big feeling,
a thing apart from your self,
as close to it as humanly possible:
like when looking through a microscope
and realizing that each magnification shows
we only know so much of anything,
The big feeling that is life's disappearing,
into the many echoes
of each moment, somehow touching
across the vast expanse,
the one that lead you here,
Where you stop to witness
the minute spectacle of time's expression;
the familiar creaking of wind against wood panels,
branches whipping in those gusts
casting wild shadows on your wall,
The big feeling coaxing the world towards
a surreal stillness, tentative and aware,
flooding through all the chances, that through the guarantees
of your quantum existence
the marvelous truth rises:
that this is all so beautiful you will die
if you do not try and express it,
but if you try and express this moment
Vietnama cellar door was beginning
to open somewhere in all of us
emerging somewhere between
the throat and the spine,
spitting out ink as it burrowed deeper,
giving a new place to hide and store
smiles for better days,
a place for matchbooks and
milk cartons and anything in-between
a place to harbor unkept promises and
other multitudes of sorrow.
had been placed on shelves with chipped
high above the earth
were brought underneath us once again
at this not-quite cemetery,
the all-encompassing "i-love-you"
buried deeply in the mix
of scattered blades and bones
as we learned
how to confront skeletons
belonging to strangers other than ourselves.
from passing by the roses strewn
at the feet of the fallen and feeling
the names of the dead on the cold, wet
stone, there became a certain
satisfaction in breathing
and even more in realizing we still could.
Weaver's WebThere once was a young weaver who worked day and night at his craft. He worked so hard, in fact, that fairy-folk and elves came from surrounding villages to see him. Butterfly-lace shirts, satin vests, and skirts made from the silvered manes of unicorns- he could take any material given him and turn it into sheets of fabric, and then again into delightful garments.
At least, he liked to imagine that he could. You see, this talented, young weaver had an adventurous spirit. He never worked with the same material twice in a row, and never more than four times a month. It was too easy to get lazy that way.
So, each evening, after he'd closed his little shop, the weaver fluttered his wings and flew to the nearby forests and fields. He could lose hours there, gathering hundreds of abandoned spiderwebs and baskets upon baskets of petals and leaves.
One day, the fairy decided this was not enough. None of it. He was well-known in his part of the kingdom, yes, but royalty had never heard his n
The Unemployed Assassin“Why don’t you tell me why you’re here, Jim?”
I crossed my legs in an attempt to get comfortable, but it only made my sitting position worse. The fancy couches in Dr. Valencia’s office had less support than a deadbeat dad and she probably only chose them because it made the room seem like a still from a movie. It might have worked if I was a pretty young lady lounging about, but it only made me more uncomfortable.
“Well, I’m going to go to jail if I’m not here every week,” I replied. “That was the bargain.”
“That’s not really what I was asking about.” She knew the truth, but just wanted to get some sick satisfaction out of hearing me say it.
I kept my mouth shut and let her look like she was anticipating something for five minutes. If I could use up the whole hour doing that, I was set.
She tapped her fingers on her ledger. “You know, Jim, we’re having the
Erosion of the Catskills There are people who know why the world revolves
why monkeys and fossils evolve
why the Catskills continue to erode and devolve
why cartilage and bones corrode and dissolve
this could be why we dream.
When earthquakes and volcanoes break out and layer up
and cover our eyes with a cloth of dust
like a frosty morning makes a field look like a tiled floor.
When dreaming breaks our souls into pieces instead
of puzzling our consciousness together
like fighting fire is a job as well as revenge.
When lakes begin to look more like graveyards
and emotions begin to feel trapped inside skin
it's what whale skeletons feel at the bottom of the ocean.
Our expressions have two games
and the truth is
erosion isn’t just external.
Blue Check FlagThe natural location
to begin a revolution
is the breakfast table.
No one is happy
as it is far too early
but everyone is there,
(If there is no
it is definitely time to revolt.)
Attention! the lady of the house
demands, tapping a butter knife
on her coffee cup.
Lace up your boots and let’s march.
Ben grabs the breadknife,
Heather the greasy saucepan. Dom
whips the tablecloth from under
plates of half-devoured toast
and waves the blue checks aloft.
and Ellen clangs two spoons.
At desks chairs are empty,
gaps are unminded,
Tablecloths fly over the
highway, and spoon bands sing.
intimate thunder in this microcosmic
corner I have stolen
your alcohol & I am
missing the color
you made the world turn
Big SisterI am not my sister's keeper.
she is a lock-pick, a file system
of assorted secrets
spilled across the couch like a
a jar of sequins and buttons
I am not my sister's keeper.
But I hold her hair back while she pukes,
and break the news to her evenly
waiting for the decline of her wailing
like the tumbling of retreating curls on
She swings her feet off the edge,
I build her wings.
welcome to the real world1. if someone invites you back to their place
for coffee, and you only drink tea,
you probably won’t actually be drinking coffee.
2. when the creepy guy from work asks you out
again and you think about accepting for the first
time because you’re sick of going home alone and
you have never learned how to say no, don’t. learn.
stand in front of the mirror until you love yourself
enough for your skin to fit snug on your body. read
about the hundreds of millions of planets out in the
hundreds of millions of galaxies and feel so crowded
that you’re about to burst all over again.
3. you’re gonna screw up.
Jesus Christ, you’re gonna screw up so bad
and i’m not talking about forgetting an appointment bad,
or spilling coffee on your boss bad
or getting into a small fender bender on the side of the interstate bad.
i’m talking about the kind of bad that ties you down
into your bed on Monday morning when you
need to go to work. th
An Old AugustI watch you
in the amber afternoon,
sun on its midway
you won't let me help
only half of them
make it to the bowl.
I smile back
at your playful eyes
It feels like
an old August,
in my stomach
some sort of sadness
some sort of joy.
Last night's thunderstorm
has left the ocean agitated,
Life is nothing
but a vacant place, today
and we shall
let it be,
let the world
wait for us, today.
on my piano bench,
I play for the cat
a winter Debussy
I could tell
FFM July 2 - The Gas maskLet me tell you a story about waking up under water. No, not literally waking up under water, but that very same feeling. It's also a story about oxygen. Have any of you ever thought about oxygen, how important it is? Oh, sure, you've held your breath for sixty seconds, felt that surge of pleasant panic. Pleasant because all it takes is to open your mouth and let that sweet, sweet oxygen come back in. Except have you ever thought about what would happen if at that very instant, when you've held your breath for as long as you could someone would come along and dunk you head-first into water? You would suddenly realize you have no power in your limbs to fight; your grandmother could drown you then. If you draw in breath, you will die, but you have to draw in breath. You have to or you will die. No-one really wants to think any further than that, lest they really do start choking.
Maybe you imagined this situation right now. See how fine it is to be breathing, steady, big gu
His lap was reserved for science...i still see his hands
coated in soil
coaxing seeds to life
bringing his creations to us
maybe that was his love
the calluses from wooden shovels
from making wooden fences
from the circle-purple grapes
the furry peaches
maybe he loved us
the same way the cat did
secretly perched atop my toddler bed
until dawn danced on my fluttering lids,
leaving before the morning sun
would make stark her black in the light
maybe he loved us
through the water and earth and wind
that fed his garden plants
maybe he loved us
with the force of sunlight
but we just never knew
Before DaybreakCouldn't sleep – 4 AM may be
Too early for coffee, but
The corner diner's open
At all hours, so I head
That way. Dickens, Green Mansions,
Shakespeare, bleak Russians – shadows
Can watch them for a while…
The night air's warm—a slow block
Of rain-sloshed concrete later
And I've made it. – Get dark roast
Pick a table not too close
To the counter, then sit back.
Watch life eddy around you...
Whoever sat here last must
Have dropped the tract—Jesus Saves.
We're story-weaving creatures.
This tale? It's nine-tenths thunder—
Granite certainty. Can't see
Much past my face. But who knows?
That might just change as sweet beans
Work their magic. Consciousness
Slowly stirs—I look around
At early birds who've lit here…
Thin man (business suit, blue tie),
Seems harried. Near one entrance
A trash-bag clad moustached guy
Growls at home-fries and the wet.
This is the dream we're living—
Lost in hurry, souls flutter
to icarusin the next life you were a phoenix
a fiery resurrection
songbird of ash & second chances
when you flew south for the winter,
you made it every time
see for you, the universe was an olympic mountain
jutting out of the ocean, a temple you would never set foot in
an elaborate maze you'd been lost in for too long;
the only love you'd ever known was from the coalfire
of your father's hands in the dark, they were the most angelic
monsters, they were beacons
his mind was the gears of a clock that never stopped spinning
but the light,
the light was a promise to be seen
the fire, a dancing enchanter that never leaves
the future was an echo on the labyrinth walls:
prince, dream of dove and swift and nebulae,
dream like the lone at night for the warmth of day
you were a golden child, waiting to be found in the darkness
the earth is too flat;
you said you'd go up,
thought you'd be a little closer to the gods
your downed shoulders caught wind of the whisper in the air
—the ground is no place
my father lived in Indiamy father is a man of many colors.
on the nights when the moon stays asleep,
he lotions his palms with pomegranate juice.
the sugared blood pools in the creases of his
skin and stains it India’s red.
sometimes, my father scrubs his hands until
they are nothing but flesh & fruit rinds.
when he was younger - all skinned knees and pocket
knives - he must've slipped on a thousand marbles.
my father’s father was a welder who rolled and spun
steel into tiny spheres.
when he died, my father’s hands became blue and
free of pocket knives. to this day, he keeps a bag
of marbles on our mantle.
from time to time, he shakes the cool metal into
his open palms and waterfalls it back and forth.
see, this is the trouble with blue hands:
they never let go of the things that scar them.
they try so hard to be red again.
my father doesn't like whistling because
an old woman in India told him it was uncivilized.
she perched herself on the edge of the Ganges River
and kneaded dough w